Our directory of things of interest

University Directory

BELOVED LAND: Stories, Struggles and Secrets from Timor-Leste by Gordon Peake

  • Written by  Mick Herron
  • Published in Books
BELOVED LAND: Stories, Struggles and Secrets from Timor-Leste by Gordon Peake
01 Sep
2014
Gordon Peake’s affectionate account of the 21st century’s first new nation reveals a country in which bureaucracy and superstition exert an equal grip: visa applications must be submitted in red folders and people would rather starve than eat fish

Since its independence from Indonesia some dozen years ago, Timor Leste has proved to be less a nation state than a tangle of family relationships, in which one particularly colourful minister of the interior ran his office like ‘a cross between a baronial court and Tony Soprano’s back office’. Internal conflict in 2006 was a mess: army factions were at violent odds, as were police factions, and both fought each other. ‘If this sounds confusing, it was.’

An air of magical realism added to the turmoil: one prominent military policeman, despatched to quell rebels, became their leader; after being imprisoned, he escaped by magical means and acquired a girlfriend ‘whose siren beauty… turned the head of every senior politician in the country’. Another major player, accused of murder, rape, extortion and myriad other war crimes, assured Peake that he had been forgiven his sins: he stood trial for them in a dream, ‘probably sanctified by a higher authority’.

Peake has an ear for a phrase, describing a coffee shop where the Timorese elite hang out – not so many years since they were prowling in armed groups around city streets – as ‘shrouded in cigarette smoke, intrigues and dodgy deals’. His fondness for this fledgling nation, both brand new and shackled by history, is palpable throughout.

BELOVED LAND: Stories, Struggles and Secrets from Timor-Leste by Gordon Peake, Scribe, £14.99

sub 2020 copy

geo line break v3

Free eBooks - Geographical Newsletter

geo line break v3

geo line break v3

University of Winchester

geo line break v3

EDUCATION PARTNERS

Aberystwyth University University of Greenwich The University of Derby

TRAVEL PARTNERS

Ponant

Silversea

Travel the Unknown

NEVER MISS A STORY - Follow Geographical on Social

Want to stay up to date with breaking Geographical stories? Join the thousands following us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and stay informed about the world.

More articles in REVIEWS...

Books

Read on for our reviews of some of the latest…

Books

by Stefano Mancuso • Other Press • £19.49 (hardback)

Books

by Ben Buchanan • Harvard University Press • £22.95 (hardback)

Books

By Valerie Trouet • Johns Hopkins University Press • £20.00…

Books

Geographical's contributing geographers share their top books for 'staying connected'…

Books

by Chris Goodall • Profile Books • £9.99 (hardback)

Books

by Richard Smyth • Uniform Books • £12.00 (paperback)

Books

by Mark Jaccard • Cambridge University Press • £12.00 (paperback)

Books

by James Crowden • William Collins • £12.00 (hardback)

Books

Read on for our reviews of some of the latest…

Films

The Banff Mountain Film Festival is a yearly cinematic treasure…

Books

Read on for our reviews of some of the latest…

Books

by Paul Wapner • Polity Books • £9.99 (paperback)